By Helena Rodriguez: PNT Staff Writer
Hundreds of people came out to the annual Heritage Days celebration at City Park on Saturday to fiddle around, rev up their cycles, place their pets on parade and show off their wheels.
For the first fiddler’s contest, 22 contestants — young and old — sharpened up their bows while dozens took part in the Eastern New Mexico Antique Auto Club Show. On the other end of the park, more than 100 riders registered for the motorcycle games and poker run. Across the street at the Portales Junior High School football field, at least 12 people participated in the Rough Rider Relay Challenge.
Others flocked to the shaded trees of the city park to enjoy live entertainment, exhibits, festive food from vendors and strolled through other booths featuring arts and crafts and information on local organizations.
Coby Carter, 9, of Portales took first place in the 10-and-under division fiddling contest by playing “Coo Coo’s Nest” and “Velvet Waltz.” The incoming fifth-grader at Valencia Elementary School said he started out playing the piano but didn’t like it, so he asked his dad if he could play the fiddle.
“For one, you can carry a fiddle around with you and it’s a lot more fun,” Coby said. In the three years he has been fiddling, Coby said he has competed in Lovington, Socorro and Turkey, Texas.
“Charlie Daniels is my favorite fiddler,” he said.
Don Massey, president of the Eastern New Mexico Antique Auto Club said 43 entries were registered in this year’s car show, down from the 58 entries last year.
“Most of these are restored classic cars from the ’50s and ’60s, with a few older ones,” said Massey, who added of the rather expensive hobby: “It’s a fever … a car lover’s fever.”
“There’s probably a few cars here that they have actually been taken apart and rebuilt from the frame up,” Massey said. “When they get through, it’s a new car and they probably have just as much money put into it.”
Over at the PJHS football field, 12 participants paid $5 to compete in the Rough Riders Relay Challenge, a series of obstacles that tested their skills in a variety of ways and was amusing for spectators to watch.
“They had to carry a 50-pound bag of peanuts, jump over two hurdles, ride a horse for 30 yards and then grab milk that was hanging,” said Gary Watkins, an event organizer. “Then they got off their horses and had to eat peanut butter sandwiches and drink a pint of milk.”
Lalo Aranda Jr. was the winner. It was the third year the Rough Riders Relay Challenge has been held.